Seattle City Council recently voted 6-3 to adopt a state law into the city’s criminal code. This legislative change in Seattle’s drug crime law enables the city to impose state-level charges for offenses related to the possession and public consumption of illegal drugs.
If you’re facing drug charges in Seattle, the recent updates to the city’s drug crime law might raise concerns and questions. At Puget Law Group, we recognize the importance of staying informed about these changes.
Our team of skilled Seattle criminal defense lawyers is dedicated to providing you with the necessary insights and guidance to understand and navigate your case effectively.
Understanding Seattle’s New Drug Crime Legislation
Seattle’s new drug crime bill was proposed and adopted in response to Washington’s State v. Blake decision, which found the state’s drug possession law to be unconstitutional and ultimately led to the passage of a new law that lowers public drug use and possession from a felony charge to a gross misdemeanor.
This law applies to controlled substances, counterfeit substances, and legend drugs. A legend drug is a prescription medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The law doesn’t apply to cannabis.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Lieu of Punishment
New drug crime law also requires law enforcement officers to refer anyone arrested for simple possession of illicit drugs to treatment services.
Individuals convicted of possession of an illicit drug who agree to undergo a substance use disorder (SUD) assessment and an SUD treatment program will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. However, those charges will be suspended for one to two years, depending on the details of the conviction.
If an individual completes a treatment program, their charges will be dismissed. If an individual refuses to undergo a treatment program or willfully abandons a treatment program, they will receive punishment for the crime they were convicted of.
New Drug Crime Sentencing Requirements
As mentioned above, Seattle’s updated drug crime law has reduced public use and possession of illicit drugs from a felony to a gross misdemeanor. As a result, those charged with drug offenses can expect the following sentencing:
- Possession of controlled or counterfeit substance: An individual convicted of this form of possession who agrees to SUD assessment and treatment must be sentenced to 364 days of jail time. This sentence can be suspended for up to two years, allowing the individual the time they need to participate in a treatment program with the goal of getting their charges dropped.
- Possession of a legend drug: An individual convicted of this form of possession who agrees to SUD assessment and treatment must be sentenced to 90 days of jail time. This sentence can be suspended for up to one year, allowing the individual the time they need to participate in a treatment program with the goal of getting their charges dropped.
- Possession of a Schedule II substance: Individuals convicted of possession of a counterfeit, controlled, or legend substance who refuse to undergo SUD treatment must be sentenced to at least 21 days of jail time.
The above-listed sentencing may also include fines. An experienced drug crime lawyer from Seattle can further explain the new penalties associated with drug possession and use convictions. They can also represent you during court proceedings and advise you on the SUD treatment programs that are available to you.
Information on SUD Treatment
If you were convicted of public use or possession of an illicit drug in Seattle, the city’s new drug crime law gives you the option to undergo SUD assessment and treatment instead of sentencing. If you choose to take the SUD treatment route, you’ll need to obtain an SUD assessment from a Department of Health (DOH) licensed or certified treatment program.
If the assessment indicates you have an SUD, you could have your charges dismissed by completing a treatment program.
How a Drug Crime Lawyer from Seattle Can Help You
In addition to helping you understand how Seattle’s new drug crime legislation may impact your case, a drug crime attorney can also provide several other services. Let’s discuss how an experienced attorney can help you:
Whether you were charged with public use, possession, or a more serious drug offense, an attorney can investigate the incident and collect evidence to build a strong defense on your behalf. They’ll gather and analyze evidence to help you combat any of the following drug-related charges:
- Drug possession
- Public use
- Possession with intent to deliver
- Drug trafficking
Negotiate a Plea Deal
Depending on your case, prosecutors may offer you a plea deal. If you accept the deal, you’ll plead guilty to reduced charges and avoid the severe consequences associated with your initial charge. The first plea deal you receive might not be sufficient enough, but your lawyer can negotiate a better deal to help you avoid serious fines and jail time.
Represent You in Court
If a plea deal isn’t on the table, your case will likely go to trial. If that’s the case, a skilled attorney will represent you in court and present a compelling legal argument detailing why you don’t deserve the consequences you’re facing.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Seattle Drug Crime Lawyer
Facing drug charges can be terrifying and stressful. Fortunately, Seattle’s new drug crime law can offer an alternative to sentencing that may help you with your SUD. The team at Puget Law Group can also advise you on your options moving forward and even represent you during legal proceedings.
Whether you’re seeking treatment options, reduced charges, or dismissed charges, our drug crime lawyers can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, get the advocacy you need to address your charges, and give yourself a brighter future.